It would be my first show of the year, and if this set the tone for the rest of 2010, I’m buckling up now because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
We left off in December, which was a tumultuous month with great shows that were bittered by loss, and I spent a lot of time solo. But this show was the complete polar opposite: I was in good company, and it felt like the best possible way to begin the year.
So it’s 6pm, and I’m walking up 11th Street talking to the DevilDriver tour manager on the phone because I have an interview scheduled with Dez. However, I’m not on the schedule. He tells me that Dez has canceled one interview today, but would I like to interview someone else from the band? I hesitate, but let him know that my questions were pretty Dez specific. So I tell him it’s no big deal, this happens, let’s do it another time. But he tells me to hang on and come to the bus.
By then I’ve walked up to the front of Slim’s by the tour bus. I’m greeted with a warm welcome- “it’s Hard Rock Chick!” from two guys waiting in line to get in (since 2:30p that afternoon- dedication!). Turns out, they are the same guys I photographed at the rail at Slipknot last year. I’m chatting with them when the tour manager steps off the bus and yells ‘Hard Rock Chick?!”, so I wander over there expecting to be told ‘sorry’, but instead, he steps aside for me to get on the bus. He starts leading me past the main area to the back, hesitating only to ask, “are you ok with large amounts of marijuana smoke?”, to which I reply, “yes…this is San Francisco”. Honestly, if I didn’t know that Dez is a married man, I would not have just gone on the back of the bus by myself. But as the curtain was pulled aside, and smoke billowed out, and I saw the back couches full of crew and members of the other bands, I widened my eyes a bit, took a deep breath, and went into work mode.
The guys cleared a seat for me, turned down the music, and were very polite while I ran through my questions with Dez. You can read the interview here. Afterwards, I thanked him and got up to leave, maneuvering around equipment set up for another interview in the front of the bus. I step off to the usual raised eyebrows of the people waiting outside and chat with the two guys again when I hear “HEY, girl, come back over here!” So I walk back to the door, and Dez and one of the crew have come off the bus to talk to me. A few fans rush up to get things signed, so I’m standing there like…ummm…what is going on? After signing the stuff, Dez tells me to give my contact info to the crew guy because they want to put me on their MySpace. So I give him my card, and they give me a VIP pass and an invitation to come back for drinks before the show. So…I guess he liked my interview?
I run home and grab a bite to eat when I get a text from my co-worker, Dean, who is also entrenched in the metal scene and is friends with DevilDriver guitarist, Mike Spreitzer. So I meet up with them for pre-show drinks at the divey pizza place down the street, Bowzers. Mike has great taste in music- he’s wearing a Skinny Puppy shirt, Rammstein is his favorite band, and NIN seemed to rank up there as well.
It’s time for the show, and when I get inside, Thy Will Be Done is already on stage. I’m quickly reminded of how quiet Slim’s is for metal shows…boo….but from the little I saw of TWBD, I dug it. Next time, I’ll have a more astute review.
I was VERY excited to finally see Goatwhore after all 4 or 5 times I had to miss them due to conflicts last year. Carving Out the Eyes of God was one of my favorite albums of 2009. Many people I know cannot get past the name, but I’ve done my fair share of convincing people to take a closer look at this band, even right then, as I ran into HRC friend Jeff, who runs the Bleeding Metal Facebook group. Perhaps I easily accepted the name Goatwhore because my high school mascot was- get this- the Battlin’ Billies. As in Billy Goats. Yeah…..so, Goatwhore did not disappoint. I squeezed my way into my front corner and admired their work. Yes, I had a VIP pass and could’ve watched the whole show from behind the velvet rope….but I prefer the front row energy. There’s something about death metal from New Orleans that just works. I mean, of all the places in the US for that kind of music to come from, it just makes sense. Their frontman, with the incredibly formal sounding name Louis Benjamin Falgoust II, is great. Zak Simmons is also a great drummer- he played with HRC fave Nachtmystium for awhile. And DD guitarist Mike enlightened me that guitarist Sammy Duet was in Acid Bath, a band I somehow did not know about but am currently enjoying. And the bassist almost has the exact same name as me….weird! Anyway, great set- below is a clip from HRC friend Dan with Bay Area Metal Scene, who was also in the house that evening.
High off that set, I turned around to see one of my favorite front men, Robb Flynn of Machine Head, standing there. A few people over stands Matt Pike from High on Fire. And of course there were my dear friends Umlaut, Photo Ray, and Photo Alan. Yes, the metal brother/sisterhood was out in full force, and it felt good.
You know what’s really great about metal shows? No line for the women’s restroom!
Next up was Suffocation, from New York. They are a powerful band that’s still got it even though they predate all the other bands by over 10 years. Vocalist Frank Mullen is quite the character. I wish I could recall everything that he said between songs, but I wouldn’t do it justice. I know that one was a rant in support of the Second Amendment- “get on my lawn and I shoot you!” (or something like that). Now, while most SFers would gasp at this, the inner me felt at home with this statement. HRC insider info: mommy and daddy make guns for a living. Not necessarily the killing kind, more of the collectible art kind. I won’t get political on you, but I support the Second Amendment, and it’s generally a piece of my life I have to hide in hippie town. Anyway, while the flow of the set was a bit disrupted with these speeches, the seasoned band brought the heaviest set of the night.
I squeezed back up front for DevilDriver. DD is a band that puts on a great show- one that’s not to be missed even if their music isn’t your thing. This is probably why they tour so much. Dez has just got it as a front man- he’s energetic and he imbues that onto the audience, and just really connects well with them. I loved that they started with ‘End of the Line’.
A couple things of note happened during this set: one was the stage dive partial fail by someone I kinda know…..it was the monitor’s fault for falling! And then at the end of the set, Guitarist Mike broke a string, and then his replacement guitar wasn’t working, so he took it off and threw it down and went off stage. While we all thought he was just really pissed that his guitar wasn’t working- I found out later that his tech pointed out that there was blood all over his face when he walked off stage, which is why he had to run downstairs to get patched up. Seems that when he was taking off the guitar the strap caught one of his facial piercing and….ouch.
Luckily I know exactly where to stand to stay out of harm’s way, because it got a bit rough in there. It also helped to have Dean and Jeff blocking the crazies…so, thanks!!!
I had a lot of fun at this show, but my neck hurts from bangin’ my head so much…..a sign of taking 3 weeks off from shows. Time to get back in show shape!
Afterward, we hung around outside, I grabbed a pic with Dez, and we watched the hardcore fans get things signed. We were harassed by a homeless guy multiple times about buying a Street Sheet from him- “no, thanks, man”…”yeah, still, no thanks”….”yeah, we’re still not interested”. But we saw him make out like a bandit with some food and water that the crew gave him later on. There was one group of fans who had a huge stack of posters that they were getting each member of DD to sign. Since I’m a poster collector- I glanced at them and saw that they all looked like other band’s posters…so I was really confused. We went for drinks with the band and crew minus Dez at Lucky 13, and I drove some of the guys back to the tune of Behemoth (which the bassist properly identified after one song). These people were still waiting to catch the last member of the band to sign them (John the drummer)- come to find out they had a poster from every show the band has ever played in SF. The band thought that was cool…as did I.
The night ended at a late 3am, when I decided to leave after watching the bassist from Suffocation and John the drummer get in a deep ‘conversation’ about blast beats and click tracks where they sat there and drummed on their legs, which kinda reminded me of this:
(the first quote, #30, between Nathan and Pickles)
Thanks to DevilDriver for being super cool to me, and making my first show of the year quite a memorable one!
Catch this tour when it comes near you- dates here. Some of them include Behemoth- East Coast- I hate you!!!